Centella or Gotu Kola
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(commonly known as Gotu Kola)
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Botanical:  Centella asiatica (also known as Hydrocotyle asiatica)
Family:  Apiaceae (parsley)
Other common names:  Gotu Kola, Indian Pennywort, Asiatic Pennywort, Brahmi, Chi-hsing, Hydrocotyle, Tiger Grass

To rejuvenate your body and boost your energy, endurance and mental clarity, try Centella.   This time-honored herb has a reputation for alleviating fatigue and depression, treating memory loss and even prolonging life!   An ancient proverb claimed, "Two leaves a day keep old age away."

The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Centella is a low-growing, creeping vine that is native to India, and may be found in marshy areas and roadside ditches in China, Africa, Sri Lanka and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Interestingly, it may also be found in the southeastern part of the United States.  The plant has long-stalked, green kidney-shaped leaves with rounded apices that have a smooth texture and palmately netted veins. In Indian cuisine, it is sometimes served as a salad or cooked vegetable and has also been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to stimulate circulation and revitalize the nerves and brain cells.  In Sri Lanka, it said to be the favored food of elephants (an elephant never forgets?).  Historically, in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines, Centella is considered to be one of the best herbal nerve tonics and a life-enhancer that contributes to long life.  The herb is prominently featured in the Shen Nong Canon of Herbs, compiled in China over two thousand years ago, as one of the "miracle elixirs of life," and legend says that the Chinese herbalist, LiChing Yun, who claimed to have lived for 256 years, credited Centella for his longevity.  In the nineteenth century, Centella (as Gotu Kola) was incorporated into the Indian Pharmacopoeia and was recommended for wound healing and the treatment of skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema and psoriasis.  Centella was also used to treat diarrhea, fever, amenorrhea and diseases of the female genitourinary tract and was first accepted as a drug in France in the 1880s.   Centella is rich in beta-carotene, sterols (campesterol, stigmasterol and sitosterol), saponins (also called triterpenoids), alkaloids, flavonols, saccharides, amino and fatty acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and K.  Its active ingredients sometimes vary, depending upon the geographic area from which the herb is gathered, but it does not contain cola or caffeine, as one of its common names, Gotu Kola, would suggest.

Beneficial Uses:
Centella is a time-honored herb that has a reputation for improving concentration and learning ability. It is a restorative tonic for mental decline in old age, because it protects the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain, which helps to improve circulation.  It is considered a "brain food" that increases mental activity.  Centella is sometimes known as the "memory herb" that revitalizes the brain cells and helps in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.  It is also believed to prevent ageing.

Centella restores balance to the nervous system.  Its sedative qualities help to treat nervous disorders and neurotic disturbances.  It revitalizes the nerves and is said to be especially effective when used proactively to avoid and treat a nervous breakdown.

Centella helps to treat cellulite, swollen ankles and varicose veins.  When the connective tissues under the skin that hold deep-level fat cells break down and are no longer able to hold fat in place, Centella's compounds work to shrink tissues and increase glycosaminoglycan production, so fat cells are not further displaced.  In addition, when blood circulation in the veins of the legs is improved and capillaries are strengthened, varicose veins may be prevented.   Because Centella stimulates blood circulation throughout the body, Centella is used to treat peripheral vascular disease (diseases of arteries and veins of arms and legs).

Centella's astringent qualities help to detoxify the body by drawing fluid from tissues.  It also promotes urination, helping to eliminate excess fluid from the body and is effective in lowering fever.

Centella helps improve blood circulation throughout the body and is therefore considered an overall tonic for rejuvenation and natural repair.  It will help combat fatigue and depression, increase sex drive (it is also considered an aphrodisiac), strengthen the immune system, improve appetite and enhance energy and stamina. 

As an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, Centella has been used to treat syphilis, tuberculosis, rheumatism, and alleviate bowel complaints.

In some studies, Centella was given to patients with chronic liver disease, and there was an improvement, and historically, Centella has long been used to treat jaundice.

Centella is said to balance hormones and has been used to relieve menopausal discomforts in women, especially hot flashes, vaginal dryness and depression.

One active ingredient in Centella, asiaticoside, works to stimulate skin repair and to strengthen skin, hair, nails and connective tissue.  The saponin known as asiaticoside beneficially affects collagen, the material that makes up connective tissue and is beneficial for healthy skin.

Centella supports good cardiovascular and circulatory health.  It improves blood circulation, and researchers claim it supports a healthy heart, slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure.

Centella is a mild herbal sedative that promotes a calming effect in the body and has been useful in treating sleep disorders.

Used internally, Centella has a beneficial effect on collagen production in the body, improving skin tone, and extracts are often added to cosmetic masks.  Used topically, Centella's saponins help to make an excellent poultice for minor wounds, wounds that do not heal, as well as heal burns and reduce the amount of eventual scarring.  Researchers found that in tests, when it was applied to psoriasis-affected areas, the lesions were healed.  This herb has been an age-old treatment for leprosy, skin ulcers, eczema and other skin problems.

Pregnant or nursing women should not take Centella Herbal Supplement.  Since it may interfere with prescription diabetes medications, a doctor should be consulted before using.  Those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medications should not use Centella.  Do not mix with tranquilizers, since it may have narcotic effect.  This herb is not appropriate for people with epilepsy or for people who are sensitive to light.  Continued, repeated topical application is not recommended.

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